I have been observing with great amusement how some bloggers have managed to hijack the news about Hu Jia’s Sakharov Prize award to advance their agenda. Their motives, in both cases, are far from honourable. I am referring to how the two bloggers from TPD and Inside-out China respond to a comment at the Guardian, where Xiao Qiang of China Digital Times has eloquently paid tribute to Hu Jia for his achievement.
It is interesting how jealousy and self-delusion can affect people’s judgement. Here we have a couple of bloggers questioning the decision of the EU for choosing Hu Jia as the Prize recipient. I am wondering whether they would have made the same “insightful” and “critical” comments, should the Guardian have solicited their opinion in the first instance.
Let us return to the question about whether Hu Jia deserves to be awarded the Prize. My answer is an unequivocal YES.
To those who ask the question about what Hu Jia has actually done apart from being jailed, let me remind you of an inconvenient truth: prior to his imprisonment in April 2008, for more than two years, Hu Jia had been continuously harassed by Chinese authorities and had been placed under house arrest. The persecution he endured had practically stopped him from physically participating in organisations that advocated environmental protection and the rights of AIDS sufferers. But Hu Jia was not intimidated; he remained active via email and blogging. The fact that ordinary people in China are unfamiliar with Hu Jia is a very powerful testimony to how media censorship has been used to great effect to suppress freedom of speech in China.
One of the most enduring legacies of Hu Jia, among many others, was his courage to speak the truth, particularly the truth about human rights violation in China. The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is a special award for those who have the courage to speak the truth. In awarding Hu Jia the Sakharov Prize, the European Parliament honours, in particular, his outstanding achievements in his fight to protect freedom of thought and expression against intolerance, fanaticism and hatred.
To be fair, the bloggers “TPD” and “Inside-out China”, disingenuous as they are, are not the only people who have ever questioned the value of truth and integrity. When Jesus was arrested and put on trial before Pontius Pilate, Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” To this Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world; for if my kingdom is of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews.” Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus replied, “You say that I am a king. For this cause I was born and have come, that everyone who is of the truth should hear my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” Jesus answered, “Truth is from heaven.” Pilate said, “Is there no truth upon earth?” Jesus said to Pilate, “You see how those who speak the truth are judged by those who have authority on earth. So what is justice?”
This prize will hopefully send a clear message to the Chinese government that many people in the civilised world support those who are fighting for civil rights and freedom of thought. Such voices cannot be silenced, in the long run – no more than the voice of Christ could be silenced after 2,000 years, when he spoke his last words as a “criminal” who failed to make any political changes in his lifetime – but his love of Truthfulness has continued to change the world for the past 2,000 years.